Thermodynamic Constraints on Fluctuation Phenomena

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Maroney, Owen
preprint description
The relationships between reversible Carnot cycles, the absence of perpetual motion machines and the existence of a non-decreasing, globally unique entropy function forms the starting point of many textbook presentations of the foundations of thermodynamics. However, the thermal fluctuation phenomena associated with statistical mechanics has been argued to restrict the domain of validity of this basis of the second law of thermodynamics. Here we demonstrate that fluctuation phenomena can be incorporated into the traditional presentation, extending, rather than restricting, the domain of validity of the phenomenologically motivated second law. Consistency conditions lead to constraints upon the possible spectrum of thermal fluctuations. In a special case this uniquely selects the Gibbs canonical distribution and more generally incorporates the Tsallis distributions. No particular model of microscopic dynamics need be assumed.